Food in Rome: dishes you must try.

One of the highlights of any trip to Rome is undoubtedly the food. From a hearty plate of carbonara to a delicious fried artichoke, the food in Rome never disappoints. With the exception of the pizza, it can hardly be described as “light”, but if you’re ready to indulge in some tasty Roman cuisine, here’s where to start.

Pasta: carbonara and cacio e pepe

Food in Rome: dishes you must try
Food in Rome: dishes you must try

Every region of Italy has its special pasta dishes, using fresh local ingredients. The most famous pasta in Rome has to be carbonara – a classic combination of spaghetti, Italian guanciale (pork cheek), eggs and pecorino cheese. Amatriciana is another popular pasta dish, made with a rich tomato sauce. A tasty meat-free option which you’ll find in pretty much every restaurant in Rome is cacio e pepe, which is nothing more than pasta (usually tonnarelli or tagliolini) served with lashings of pecorino cheese and black pepper. Even if Cacio e Pepe sounds like an easy dish to make, it’s actually extremely difficult to make and it requires superb cooking skills. That’s why you should take advantage of your time in Rome and try a Cacio e Pepe here, in one of the few cities where you can taste it.  

Where to eat: You can find these classic pasta dishes in pretty much every restaurant in Rome. Da Enzo al 29 (Via dei Vascellari 29) in Trastevere is renowned for its carbonara, and you can’t go wrong at La Carbonara (Via Panisperna 214) in Monti. Da Felice (Via Mastro Giorgo 29) and Flavio al Velavevodetto (Via di Monte Testaccio 97), both in Testaccio, are famous for cacio e pepe.

Roman pizza

pizza romana
A traditional, crunchy pizza Romana

Some of the best food in Rome has to be the pizza – thin, crispy and utterly delicious. Unlike the more substantial Neapolitan pizza, Roman pizza won’t leave you feeling stuffed. However, when it’s made with the finest ingredients, even a simple Margherita is full of flavour.

There are two main kinds of pizza in Rome. Old-school pizzerias (often only open in the evening) serve up whole pizzas with traditional toppings. On the menu they’re often divided into two types: rosse and bianche. Rosse pizzas have a tomato base (such as Margherita or Marinara), while bianche have a cheese base, without tomato (such as Fiori di Zucca – courgette flowers and anchovies). If you prefer a wider variety of toppings or are looking for a quick bite on the go, try pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice), which can be found all over the city.

Where to eat: Ai Marmi (Viale Trastevere 53), Emma (Via  del Monte della Farina 28) near Campo de’ Fiori and Da Remo (Piazza di Santa Maria Liberatrice 44) in Testaccio are all good bets for classic Roman pizza.

Food in Rome: meat dishes and the “quinto quarto”

coda alla vaccinara
Coda alla vaccinara (oxtail)

Rome has a rich tradition of meaty cuisine, and more adventurous meat-eaters will enjoy sampling dishes such as tripe and offal. Some kinds of meat are known as the “quinto quarto” (“the fifth quarter”). Once considered undesirable leftovers, today pajata (calf intestine) and coda alla vaccinara (oxtail) can be found on menus all over Rome, from humble trattorias to high-end restaurants. Saltimbocca (thin slices of veal with prosicutto) is another speciality; the name translates as “jumps in your mouth”. Diners with more carnivorous cravings are certainly spoiled for choice with the food in Rome.

Where to eat: Trattoria Da Teo (Piazza dei Ponziani 7A) in Trastevere is a great option for the meaty Roman classics, as are most restaurants in Testaccio. Cecchino dal 1887 (Via di Monte Testaccio 30) is a historic restaurant that specialises in meat, offering everything from trotters to tongue. It’s also worth going off the beaten path to Betto e Mary (Via di Savorgnan 99) in Torpignattara, to the east of the centre. There’s no written menu, but there are very few animals (or animal parts) that they don’t serve…



And this is just the beginning. There’s so much delicious food in Rome – make sure you sample some fried carciofi (artichokes), suppli (fried rice balls), filetti di baccalà (fried cod), trapizzini (sandwiches made with pizza bianca and typical Roman filings) and cicoria ripassata (chicory fried with olive oil, garlic and chili). Then, if you’ve still got room, finish off your meal with a gelato…

If you need more information on where to eat in Rome, or you’re interested in a food tour, Roads to Rome Private Tours are here to help!

Read more: How to eat like a local in Rome (Time Out)